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In Fighting Trim: Jackie Chan squares off in 'Supercop,' which shows Aug. 11.

Lawn-Chair Brigade

Cinema San Pedro film series screens free films every Wednesday during the summer

By Richard von Busack

IN THE NEW MOVIE The Notebook, Ryan Gosling lies down in the middle of the street to prove to his lady love Rachel McAdams that he's full of youthful high spirits. Not everyone can be as studly as Ryan Gosling. But as Cinequest/Cinema San Pedro spokesman Jens Hussey insists, on these coming Wednesday nights during the summer, every ordinary person [of age] can drink beer sitting in the middle of the street and not be injured by automobiles. Moreover, they'll be watching movies several times better than The Notebook for the amazing price of free. The summer at Cinema San Pedro series includes 10 Wednesday screenings surrounded by beer-positive concession stands, restaurants and taverns of the historic Square, and the twinkling of the bijou lights in the sycamores. The occasional jets screaming into the airport will provide intervals of heart-stopping real-life drama.

It is a summer of gimmickry at the revival cinemas. The Exploit-o-Scope series at the Pacific Film Archives at UC-Berkeley is a minifest of gimmick movies. The lineup includes Mr. Sardonicus (Aug. 4), whose claim to fame is a "Punishment Poll," in which the audience decides the fate of the villain. It's a custom that might well be revived at screenings of Fahrenheit 9/11.

So Cinema San Pedro's Cinequest-sponsored shows include not just short films included in each night's entertainment but also floor, or rather street, shows. At the original and superior 1975 The Stepford Wives (June 30), costumed "wives" will saunter through the audience, acting like perfect hostesses. Comedienne Gretchen Rootes will do a short set before Caddyshack (July 21) and The Big Lebowski (Aug. 25); and a special celebrity martini mix-off takes place at the showing of The Thin Man (Aug. 4).

On Aug. 11, the series screens the terrific Supercop (a.k.a. Police Story III, dubbed by Miramax), which features Jackie Chan and Michelle Yeoh in a battle against gangsters in the skies above Kuala Lumpur. Martial artist John Ozuna will give a demonstration of the art of kung fu in a battle royal with several students, including an exhibition of glow-in-the-dark weaponry.

What will be done as a curtain raiser for Bye Bye Birdie (July 14) is TBA. I don't envy them: Ann-Margret is as hard to open for as to follow. "Shockwaves of pure estrogen wrack the audience during Ann-Margret's dance in the title sequence," claims screenwriter W.W. "Bob" Trowbridge (Chimp on His Shoulder, The Day the Earth Twitched). "Britney Spears, my ass!"

One might propose free salmon mousse and wafer-thin mints for Monty Python's angry yet articulate Monty Python's The Meaning of Life (July 7), cups of birdseed or impromptu psychological counseling for uncommunicative families at The Birds (July 28) or gratis bananas at the series closer, the Charlton Heston version of Planet of the Apes (Sept. 1). If the movie prevents global war and a takeover by a race of intelligent gorillas, the filmmakers' efforts will not have been in vain.

Cinema San Pedro takes place Wednesdays at 8pm on San Pedro Street between Santa Clara and St. John streets, San Jose. Admission is free.

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From the June 30-July 6, 2004 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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